A Twisted Contest
“I can’t believe it! I can’t, I mean, we were so close to the date!!” I squealed excitingly.
“Yes, we are. Now calm down Alisha. Don’t get too excited about it...” warned my best friend, Leya.
In another week or so, the most amazing contest was going to be held, “The Annual Artist Fair!!”. I was precisely getting all my supplies ready for that contest. Though it is one week ahead, it never hurts to be prepared. Leya was trying to calm me down because I accidentally talked about this contest all day and all night. It was like I cannot stop thinking about it. Leya’s mom was hosting the fair, so she told me all the tips and tricks to do on the day the worldwide contest is being held.
Before this though, there was a lot semi rounds to see which student was going to get picked out of the entire school. There were 8 different rounds to do and win before being selected to the fair. Those semi rounds were so tough, and nerve cracking. So much tension and nervousness are built up on you, but you must relax by drawing what comes to your mind when reading the prompt. I had gotten ready for this contest since, forever!! Ok, maybe not forever, that’s a little too extreme, but for 2 years now.
The first time I had entered this contest was last year, in 4th grade. But, on the last round, another girl had beat me and she went to the grand fair. I was really upset that I lost on the final round, but I was also happy for her. During the summer break, I practiced drawing with every type of mixed media there is. I worked hard to be fully ready for this contest. Now, all the effort and hard work I had put in during the summer break and all those 8 rounds were being put to the test.
Also, our school had never won The Artistic Competition title. The rival school had always won. We didn’t really know the reason why for 20 years in a row, they were the champions. Many of us think that they had cheated the contest, but there isn’t solid proof or evidence to conclude that they did. If there were though, all the 80 security cameras would have captured it. We were all hoping for the best.
The week of the contest...
“Hello Alisha! How hard have you been cleaning those brushes? Can I help you? I could help you clean the palette knife, or...box the charcoal in order based on their width if you want?” asked Leya.
“No, it’s fine, Leya, thanks for asking though. I’ll do them by myself. It’s just I feel more satisfied with things when I do them myself, I have a way of doing certain things. You might find that a little weird, but it’s just how I do things.” I replied.
“Alisha, can I ask you a question, and just tell me yes or no.” Leya asked me.
“Sure, go ahead and ask.” I replied.
“Do...do you think you’re going to beat the champions? Just asking about what your thoughts and opinion is.” Leya looked curiously at me, waiting for my response.
I stammered at first, I didn’t know what I was going to say, but tried to respond her back.
“Honestly, I don’t know. If I win and beat the all-time champions, then great! If I don’t beat them, well... it is going to be their 21st year of winning. Either way, I feel fine. I am happy that I got to partake in this big contest! Not about winning or losing but participating.” I replied.
“Ok, that’s cool!” Leya said.
“Now, can I ask you a question, if you don’t mind.” I asked.
“Yes, you may, and I don’t mind at all.” she replied.
“Ok but promise me that you’re going to reply though.” I asked her, now looking a little bit more serious than before.
“Yes, I promise.” Leya told.
“Which school did you go to before moving here?” I asked, patiently waiting for her answer.
One thing which I had always wondered was from which school Leya had gone to before moving here. She was the new girl this year, and whenever I had asked her about her old school, she would always try to change the subject into something else. I did find that a little suspicious, and awkward, but never really bothered too much about it. I guess it was her wish if she wanted to share that experience with me or not. Though, I really wished she would share with me about her old school and her 5 years there. Maybe there are some things which she doesn’t really want to remember, I don’t know.
Leya had paused, and hesitated before saying her response, “I need to go, I am sorry. It’s just, I can’t tell you that. Please trust me though, I will on day the contest is being held. The time now is 5:30 pm, and my mom will be waiting for me back at home, sorry but I will meet you tomorrow at school. Bye!”
I sighed; I knew this was going to happen. What big secret was she hiding anyway that she can’t even tell her own best friend? I soon forgot about the entire conversation I had with Leya and continued with doing my own work. The contest was only 2 days away and I needed to get everything ready.
The day of the contest...
“Good luck Alisha, I know you are going to do an AMAZING job at the contest, and always remember we are proud of you, even if you don’t win.” my mom and dad said together.
I think they had practiced this beforehand because they said every word in perfect harmony.
I had entered the HUGE hall. I could hear the crowd’s excitement and cheers. I could spot my parents from down here. I was nervous, but slowly tried to relax.
“Everything is going to be fine. Remember, you are here because of your hard work and persistence. Always believe in yourself and take a deep breath before drawing. You’re going to do great.” this was a pep talk which I had pre planned before actually saying it.
I saw Leya and her mom. But what was this? Why was she mingling and interacting with the kids from the other school?
It’s ok, that was nothing. Maybe she was just answering their questions or helping them.
If our school won, then we would get a cash prize, and Leya’s mom and her would both get their own prize. So, it was a win-win situation for both me and Leya. Though I wasn’t overconfident about winning, I still had hopes to draw something spectacular which would amaze the judges.
Leya had gotten two canvases ready, one for me and the other one for the other kid for the other school. I had noticed something important though, the varnish in mine wasn’t sanded properly. I knew that my paint wouldn’t stick to the canvas. I quickly took a glance at the canvas for the other school and saw the difference between the two varnishes.
I decided to ask any of the judges before the competition had already started and things got even worse, “Excuse me! Can someone switch the varnish please, this one is not sanded properly which can cause my paint to not stick.”
The judges quickly looked at each other, and then looked at Leya. Something was not right, and I could feel the negative vibes.
“Alisha, it’s ok! Nothing will happen, and you must trust us, we only want the best for you both! Go ahead and start painting.” told one of the judges.
I sighed and decided to get on with the painting.
“The finishing touches, and... perfect!” I whispered to myself.
“Contestants, time is officially up!! I want both of you to slowly hold your canvas and bring it to us, we will secure them in the frame.” Leya’s mom had announced.
I too listened to them and slowly brought them the canvas. But I had noticed that they weren’t doing it properly.
“Excuse me, ma’am, please I am not criticizing you, but it isn’t fully secured.” I told.
“Alisha, we’re the experts here, I think we know how to do things.” spoke the other judge.
I wasn’t feeling too sure about all the things that was happening to me.
“Leya, do you think the judges are being...fair?” I asked her.
“Sweet little Alisha. Don’t you see what just happened? All the judges are parents of the Champion academy and remember you had asked me the day before yesterday about which school I had went to, well... it was Champion Academy, your rival school. Now don’t keep your hopes too up, the frame, the varnish, everything is used against you. The entire world will know what losers your school is filled with. I hope that answered your question!” chuckled Leya, wickedly.
I didn’t have anything to say back to her. Everything that was going on right now, was rigged by her. She knew all of this was going to happen. This was surely a Twisted Contest.
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You sort of telegraphed the ending. Leya is Alisha's best friend, but just moved here a year ago and she is evasive about where she went to school before AND she'll answer right after the contest. And the same rival school from across town has won the contest twenty years running. Obviously the help Leya intended to give in organizing was supposed to be surreptitious sabotage. How to avoid telegraphing? Remove some of the references. I know you want to foreshadow, so but do it subtly if you want a big reveal. I'd go with the same school ...
Thank you for giving me such a wonderful piece of feedback! 🙂
Good job Haripriya!!!
Thank you!! :)
I like the buildup you created here with Alisha trying her best for the contest. It was obvious there was some tension between her and her friend, and I felt bad that Alisha's naive nature kept her from seeing what was going on. One thing I will say is I was hoping to know exactly what Alisha was planning to paint and why she believed it would have a chance in the contest. Outlining this can help you avoid so much exposition and "telling" instead of "showing". Ex: Use Alisha's thoughts while she's working on the painting; her process, ...
Great story! I love all the description you used. Great job!
Hey, Haripriya! First of all, great story! Second, I wanted to let you know that I wrote a "Zombies Sound Safer Than My Family - Part 2." You had read the first and seemed to enjoy it, so I was just letting you know that I had made a second if you wanted to check it out. :)
OMG!!! Yes I would definitely check it out! I was very excited and was anxiously waiting for the second one!! (I bet it's going to be amazing!!!) 😄🤩
Thanks :) I noticed that some people wanted to figure out how the portal was made, and if Ben and Callie ever kiss...Part 3???